(File photo)

Aboriginal people make up one-third of Metro Vancouver’s homeless

Latest report points to impact of residential schools, racism, and child welfare policies

Despite making up only 2.5 per cent of Metro Vancouver’s population, 34 per cent of the region’s homeless people are Aboriginal.

The regional district unveiled the final data, which came from the 2017 homeless count, this week. That’s a three-per-cent increase from the last count in 2014, where 31 per cent of the area’s homeless were Aboriginal.

In total, 3,605 people were homeless in Metro Vancouver, with Aboriginal people making up 746 of them.

The report recommended altering the funding formula between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal programs to reflect the high proportion of homeless who are First Nations.

Vancouver far outstripped any other city in both the number and percentage of their homeless who were Aboriginal, with 448 people, or 60 per cent.

Surrey was the second highest, with 137, or 18 per cent of their homeless identifying as Aboriginal.

When attempting to dissect why a disproportionate amount of Aboriginal people find themselves on the streets, the report identified the lasting effects of residential schools, racial and cultural discrimination, the impact of migration between their home communities and Metro Vancouver, and the impact of child welfare and foster care policies.

The report also highlighted the high cost of housing as an stumbling block for Aboriginal people in particular, drawing on past research showing typically lower incomes for First Nations compared to other groups.

Recommendations included a much-requested comprehensive housing strategy, the reinstating of funding for new social housing, and Aboriginal-specific reconciliation support for those suffering from trauma from the impact of residential schools and racism.

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